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Philia Love: Lenapehoking

love Feb 07, 2022

This month, we will focus on four types of love: philia, agape, storge, and eros. To begin this series, let's look at the concept of philia love and what that means for us. In response to this blog post, I encourage all of us, myself included, to be more intentional with how we treat other people (brothers, sisters, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, etc.). After you read through this blog, share a comment with how you plan to be intentional this week, demonstrating philia love toward someone in your life.

The Lenni-Lenape Indians (also known as the Delaware Indians) occupied the land we know as Philadelphia prior to English settlement in the area. In fact, they lived in parts of Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. This area, according to Cooper, was once known as Lenapehoking. The name Lenape means “the real people.” Their history includes trials, tribulations, genocide, disease, destruction, and…. yes, philia love

Chet Brooks, a member of the Lenni-Lenape tribe, explained that the population of this territory was 15,000 to 20,000 before being displaced in the 17th and 18th centuries. The word displaced makes it sound like the tribe voluntarily moved from one location to another, but that is not the case. The first Quaker, William Warner, arrived in 1677 and by 1682 the population of the Lenni-Lenape tribe dropped to 4000. 

They were violently forced to migrate West. Initially, the Swiss and Dutch waged war with the Lenni-Lenape tribe as they took claim of their land for “New Sweden.” Without access to firearms and ammunition, the Lenni-Lenape tribe had very little ability to defend themselves properly. Additionally, their immune systems could not defend against the diseases brought to the area by the colonists. Curtis Zunigha, co-founder and co-director of the Lenape Center explained that in addition to physical force and disease, the Lenni-Lenape tribe lost land because colonists intentionally mislead them. For this reason, William Penn, who arrived in 1682, wanted to do what he could to treat the Native American Indians fairly and ultimately named the city Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love. Philia love is an intimacy of deep friendships. It includes love, respect, and compassion. Philia is the opposite of phobia (where one is afraid of someone or something). Instead, philia is the love for someone or something. John 13:34–35 speaks of philia love in saying,

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." 

Penn was concerned with the treatment and friendships of the Lenni-Lenape tribe. He even wrote a treaty in 1683 and actually paid for the land. This act of brotherly love leads to the name of the city; whereas the Greek words love (philia) and brother (adelphos) were combined to form the name Philadelphia. Penn had his own history of religious persecution and violence, that caused him to establish a colony dedicated to the principles of brotherly love, participatory government, and religious toleration, according to Kashatus

Have we lost sense of the world that William Penn had imagined? Just imagine what the world would be like if we all loved each other with philia love and actively sought to treat each other with fairness and respect. 


As we reflect this week on our business deals, our relationships with friends and family, and our overall treatment of others, I encourage each of us to keep the Golden Rule front and center. The Golden Rule is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It is also found in Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”


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